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1 In Rural Strains we first our Musick try,
2 And bashful into Woods and Thickets fly,
3 Mistrusting then our Skill. Yet, if thro' Time
4 Our Voice improving gains a Pitch sublime;
5 Thy growing Virtues, Sackvil, shall engage
6 My riper Verse, and more settled Age.
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7 The Sun, now mounted to the Noon of Day,
8 Began to shoot direct his burning Ray,
9 When, with the Flocks, their Feeders sought the Shade,
10 A venerable Oak, wide-spreading made.
11 What should they do to pass the loit'ring Time?
12 As Fancy led, each form'd his Tale in Rhyme:
13 And some the Joys, and some the Pains of Love,
14 And some to set out strange Adventures strove;
15 The Trade of Wizards some, and Merlin's skill,
16 And whence to Charms such Empire o'er the Will.
17 Then Cuddy last (who Cuddy can excell
18 In neat Device?) his Tale began to tell.
19 When Shepherds flourish'd in Eliza's Reign,
20 There liv'd in great Esteem a jolly Swain,
21 Young Colin Clout; who well could pipe and sing,
22 And by his Notes invite the lagging Spring.
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23 He, as his Custom was, at Leisure laid
24 In silent Shade, without a Rival plaid.
25 Drawn by the Magick of th' inticing Sound,
26 What Crouds of mute Admirers flock'd around!
27 The Steerlings left their Food; and Creatures, wild
28 By Nature form'd, insensibly grew mild.
29 He makes the Birds in Troops about him throng,
30 And loads the neighb'ring Branches with his Song.
31 Among the rest, a Nightingale of Fame,
32 Jealous, and fond of Praise, to listen came.
33 She turn'd her Ear, and emulous, with Pride,
34 Like Echo to the Shepherd's Pipe reply'd.
35 The Shepherd heard with Wonder; and again,
36 To try her more, renew'd his various Strain.
37 To all the various Strain she shapes her Throat,
38 And adds peculiar Grace to ev'ry Note.
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39 If Colin, in complaining Accent grieves,
40 Or brisker Motion to his Measure gives,
41 If gentle Sounds he modulates, or strong,
42 She, not a little vain, repeats the Song:
43 But so repeats, that Colin half despis'd
44 His Pipe and Skill, so much by others priz'd.
45 And, sweetest Songster of the winged Kind,
46 What Thanks, said he, what Praises can I find
47 To equal thy melodious Voice? In thee
48 The Rudeness of my rural Fife I see;
49 From thee I learn no more to vaunt my skill.
50 Aloft in Air she sate, provoking still
51 The vanquish'd Swain. Provok'd at last, he strove
52 To shew the little Minstrel of the Grove
53 His utmost Art; if so some small Esteem
54 He might obtain, and Credit lost, redeem.
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55 He draws in Breath, his rising Breast to fill;
56 Thro' all the Wood his Pipe is hear'd to shrill.
57 From Note to Note in haste his Fingers fly;
58 Still more and more his Numbers multiply;
59 And now they trill, and now they fall and rise,
60 And swift and slow they change, with sweet Surprize.
61 Attentive she doth scarce the Sounds retain,
62 But to herself first conns the puzzling Strain;
63 And tracing careful, Note by Note, repays
64 The Shepherd, in his own harmonious Lays;
65 Thro' ev'ry changing Cadence runs at length,
66 And adds in Sweetness, what she wants in Strength.
67 Then Colin threw his Fife disgrac'd aside;
68 While she loud Triumph sings, proclaiming wide
69 Her mighty Conquest. What could Colin more?
70 A little Harp, of Maple Ware, he bore:
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71 The Harp it self was old, but newly strung,
72 Which usual he a-cross his Shoulders hung.
73 Now take, delightful Bird, my last Farewel,
74 He said; and learn from hence, thou dost excel
75 No trivial Artist. And at last he wound
76 The murm'ring Strings, and order'd ev'ry Sound.
77 Then earnest to his Instrument he bends,
78 And both his Hands upon the Strings extends.
79 The strings obey his Touch, and various move,
80 The lower, answ'ring still to those above.
81 His restless Fingers traverse to and fro,
82 And in Pursuit of Harmony they go;
83 Now, lightly skimming, o'er the Strings they pass,
84 Like Winds, that gently brush the plying Grass,
85 And melting Airs arise at their Command:
86 And now, laborious, with a weighty Hand
87 He sinks into the Cords with solemn Pace,
88 And gives the swelling Tones a bolder Grace:
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89 Then, intricate he blends agreeing Sounds,
90 While Musick thro' the trembling Harp adounds.
91 The double Sounds the Nightingale perplex,
92 And pos'd, she does her troubled Spirit vex.
93 She warbles diffident, 'twixt Hope and Fear,
94 And hits imperfect Accents here and there.
95 Then Colin play'd again, and playing Sung.
96 She, with the fatal Love of Glory stung,
97 Hears all in Pain: Her Heart begins to swell;
98 In piteous Notes she sighs, in Notes which tell
99 Her bitter Anguish. He, still singing, plies
100 His limber Joints: her Sorrows higher rise.
101 How shall she bear a Conqu'ror, who before
102 No equal, thro' the Grove, in Musick bore?
103 She droops, she hangs her flagging Wings, she moans,
104 And fetches from her Breast melodious Groans.
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105 Oppress'd with Grief at last, too great to quell,
106 Down breathless on the guilty Harp she fell.
107 Then Colin loud lamented o'er the Dead,
108 And unavailing Tears profusely shed,
109 And broke his wicked Strings, and curs'd his Skill;
110 And, best to make Atonement for the Ill,
111 (If for such Ill Atonement might be made)
112 He builds her Tomb beneath a Laurel Shade:
113 Then adds a Verse, and sets with Flow'rs the Ground,
114 And makes a Fence of winding Osiers round:
115 A Verse and Tomb is all I now can give,
116 And here thy Name at least, he said, shall live.
117 Thus ended Cuddy with the setting Sun,
118 And by his Tale unenvy'd Praises won.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): [PASTORAL 05] THE FIFTH PASTORAL.
Themes: nature
Genres: heroic couplet; pastoral

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Source edition

Dryden, John. Poetical miscellanies: the sixth part. Containing a collection of original poems, with several new translations. By the most eminent hands. London: printed for Jacob Tonson, within Grays-Inn Gate, next Grays-Inn Lane, 1709, pp. 32-39. [12],172,177-224,221-298,301-632,[2],723-751,[1]p.,plate; 8⁰. (ESTC T142876)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.